Ferry captain saved pensioner from car hanging over 30ft cliff

Bob Paterson has been nominated for a 'Brave @ Heart' Scottish bravery award.
Bob Paterson has been nominated for a 'Brave @ Heart' Scottish bravery award.
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A BRAVE ferry boss is up for a prestigious award after saving a pensioner from a car hanging over a 30ft cliff edge.

Bob Paterson was driving home to Boldon from his holiday home in Scotland when he saw a car with its hazard lights on.

As the 51-year-old got closer, he realised the car was hanging over a cliff – and was only being prevented from tipping over by another driver holding on to the car door.

Mr Paterson, captain of the Shields Ferry, jumped out of his car to see what was going on – and saw an elderly woman trapped in the driver’s footwell.

He jumped in to help the woman, who is in her 80s, and dragged her to safety, then waited with her for 999 crews to arrive.

Now Mr Paterson has been nominated for a Brave@Heart Award – the Scottish Government’s recognition for those who have put their life on the line to help others – for his part in the rescue.

He said: “I didn’t think anything more of it. The emergency services came along, I passed the woman over to paramedics and carried on with my journey home.

“Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got a call saying I had been nominated for the award. They seem quite prestigious, so it’s brilliant.”

Mr Patterson, who is originally from Fife, was on his way home from his cottage in Bridge of Gaur, near Pitlochry, when he saw the car, which had been driven by the woman’s son, who had escaped.

He said the single-lane road was snowy and visibility was poor.

The dad-of-one, who is married to Lesley, 54, added: “The snow was really coming down, and we’re talking about a road in the middle of nowhere.

“The woman’s son had seen a lorry coming the other way and pulled over to one side to try and avoid it.

“What he didn’t realise was there was no layby or hard shoulder – it was the edge of a cliff.

“When I got there, the passenger side of the car was hanging over the side and a man from the car in front of me was hanging on to the driver’s door, to keep it from falling.”

Mr Paterson, who lives in the Cotswolds estate, said: “The son was out and she was in the footwell.

“I didn’t think anything about it, and I just went in to get her.

“It was only after that I realised that one slip and we could both have been in the forest below, and that would have been the end of both of us.”

The woman escaped without any injuries and Mr Paterson, whose son Kevin is a serving soldier, is hoping to find out who she is and meet up with her on his next trip to Bridge of Gaur.

Mr Paterson will hear in June whether he has made the final list for a Brave@Heart Award.

He added: “It is an honour to be named in the long list.

“I don’t know if what I did can be considered as brave. The adrenalin kicked in and I knew I had to do something.

“I would hope it was what anyone would do in the same situation – I know if it was my mum in the same position, I hope they would.”

Shields Ferry manager Carol Timlin hailed Mr Paterson’s act of valour, which happened at the end of January.

She said: “We’re all extremely proud of Bob for what he did.

“For him to be nominated for such a prestigious bravery award is fantastic news.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho